A true 'Free Software' Ecosystem with SCALE 8x UpSCALE Speaker Michael Fair

Local free & open source software enthusiast Michael Fair chatted with us about his upcoming SCALE 8x UpSCALE talk.  We discussed Michael's belief that FOSS is the true path to a sustainable economy.

SCALE: What are the four freedoms of your viable economic model? And why are they essential for the model to work?

Michael Fair:

They are the traditional four freedoms of software:

1) The right to use

2) The right to distribute

3) The right to study and modify

4) The right to distribute the modified versions

But expanded to include essentially any Intellectual Property an owner chooses to protect with them.  An obvious expansion is in blueprints and electronics designs (but most of us have thought of those already).  The biggest expansions from people's current mindset I believe would probably be in the areas of toy designs, TV and movie characters and stories, clothing prints, and other "Intellectual Property". My favorite at the moment are car designs.  If I did my job right, then I don't expect anyone to find much of this new on its own.

The four freedoms are essential because I declared them as part of the fundamental premises of reality and then just saw where I ended up.  The simplest visual parallel I can think of to sum up the main thrusts of the ecosystem and to understand why the four freedoms are essential to the viability of the model, imagine a row of restaurants all sharing a common kitchen.

The primary difference in this kitchen from a real kitchen is when a chef makes a meal and the waiter grabs the meal to serve to the customer, the waiter actually gets an identical copy of the chef's meal, not the original. As many waiters can grab as many meals as the customers order and the chef never has to remake a single meal because a copy is always what's delivered. That copy can be delivered as is or tailored to whatever the customers tastes are. The chef might be asked to remake the meal because it wasn't made right, or a chef might be asked to make an altered version of the meal.

Once that meal has been made the first time, no one ever has to recreate it. It may get tweaked over time, but in essence, that meal has become an investment into the common kitchen that any of the restaurants can draw from any time they see fit. They can all add it to their menus.

It's up to the restaurant to actually provide the dining experience, and they might have a couple chefs of their own to "fix" or "whip up" some custom meals, but on the whole there's a collaboration to share the kitchen resources as a means to outcompete restaurants that each have their own dedicated kitchen staff.

The customer as also doesn't pay for the meal itself anymore. They come in to the restaurant, pay a standard 'meal charge', and say "wow me". The restaurant then discusses about this with the customer (and most likely already has a relationship to the customer and their tastes), sends the waiters into the common kitchen and they pull any and all meals they deem would be required to satisfy this customer. Assuming the restaurant did its job, the customer would be wowed and would pay a very generous tip to the restaurant for the extraordinary experience.

Also, as part of the rules, any restaurant at any time can choose to jump in with their waiters and begin to share resources with the common kitchen. If said restaurant isn't investing anything in the common kitchen they might not get any attention from the chefs, but there's an open policy for anyone to take part in getting meals from the kitchen and the kitchen is a separate entity from any of its member restaurants.

The ability for this row of restaurants to serve as many of any meal ever created by any chef in the common kitchen as it deems necessary and the ability to distribute the load of paying for all those chefs and the kitchen resources across all the restaurants gives them as a collective a competitive edge against a restaurant that bears the full cost of its own kitchen. The customer is freed from having to pick and choose meals based on budget, they know that a much of whatever it is they need can be provided by the restaurant at no (or at least minimal) additional charge.

This kind of sharing is only enabled when the meals themselves are protected by the four freedoms. In this model the restaurants stop focusing so much on the meals they are serving. The meals are no longer the main point.The point, and the new focus for the restaurants is on "the total dining experience".

SCALE: How does this model differ from the current model used by business today?


Today separate entities see themselves as competitors to others in the same field.  For instance I bet if we took a poll and asked "Are Ubuntu and RedHat competitors?"  The overwhelming answer would be "Yes".

In a world protected by the four freedoms this answer doesn't make sense.  Instead of relating to these companies as competitors, relate to them as different restaurants sharing a common kitchen.  How is the world different if Ubuntu uses just as much JBoss as RedHat?  What would it be like if the Ubuntu kernel hackers sat in the same office  space as the RedHat kernel hackers?  What would be possible if the RPM guys and the DEB guys were also sitting in the same office space to create a future where we got the best features of each system?

What decisions does each company make now that might be different if they worked with each other against all non-common kitchen restaurants?  I continue to see new opportunities every time I sit down and think about it.

Other areas addressed are getting these common kitchen restaurants investors
we can live with.  To ensure success, the common kitchen needs to be well funded, and as such, it derives income from three separate funding sources. Organizing the restaurants of the world to ensure they do not starve each other out for customers by accident (eliminating restaurants that provide sub-par dining experiences through competition is expected. But that's
doing it on purpose.).  Giving a community of customers with similar tastes a direct opportunity to interact with both the restaurants and the common kitchen.



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